Afternoon tea is one of those English traditions which seems to have had a resurgence in recent years. It seems that its possible to have an afternoon tea just about anywhere these days. As someone who doesn’t partake of afternoon tea terribly often, when I do I feel it needs to be a little special. Dresses must be worn, it should be neither too early to too late, otherwise it just feels like lunch or an early dinner, and if its a little bit celebratory then all the better.
Afternoon Tea at The Petersham Hotel in Richmond, South West London, meets all those criteria splendidly as I discovered recently. The hotel itself is suitably grand with out being intimidating. From the moment you arrive and ascend the stone stairs to the entrance to the hotel it feels special. A sweeping staircase, and a grand piano only add to this.
The restaurant where tea is served has one of the most recognisable views of the River Thames. We were fortunate enough to have a table by the window so had an excellent view, but actually wherever you sit in the light filled restaurant there are equally excellent views of the famous bend in the Thames leading away from Richmond.
There is a lovely choice of teas to drink, I plumped for earl grey which I love, but could have been much more adventurous should I have wished. The afternoon tea itself is served on a pretty 3 tiered cake stand, and is beautifully presented. Large dusted scones, two plain and two fruit were, we agreed the lightest we had ever tasted and the generous scoop of buttery clotted cream was so good I could have eaten it by the teaspoonful had I not been in The Petersham Hotel. The choice of sandwich fillings was pleasingly traditional with egg and cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese and chives (my favourite), coronation chicken and apple smoked cheese and cider chutney. The bread was fresh and interesting and well chosen to match the fillings. Sandwiches and scones are all very well but everyone knows its the cakes which are the real stars of the afternoon tea show. They need to be pretty, petite, and plentiful! The selection at The Petersham were all of these things. The passion fruit curd tart was sweet and tart in just the right proportions. The hazelnut and praline opera cake not only looked the part its delicate layers and crunchy base were perfect, and the cupcake if a little large was as light as air.
Despite our best efforts we were unable to finish all the cakes and scones, so we were delighted to be offered a box to bring the remainder home in. If I had one tiny complaint it was that our tea was not replenished. We were given an extra pot of hot water when I asked, but as we spent a couple of hours enjoying our tea a fresh pot would have been nice. We were there during Wimbledon fortnight so our tea was a Wimbledon themed afternoon tea. I’m not sure how much this would differ from normal, I suspect very little.
I would heartily recommend The Petersham for afternoon tea. Its elegance, beautiful setting and of course the delicious tea and cake make it the perfect place to don a frock, raise you little finger and sip on earl grey to your hearts content.
Please note this is not a collaborative or sponsored post.